New to Entrepreneurship? 9 Diverse Founders Say This is How You Achieve Success
9 Founders and CEOs Share Top Tips for Entrepreneurs Just Starting Out
After personally working with an array of eclectic entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, I have come to the conclusion that every business owner has at least this one simple thing in common — he or she wants either themselves, or their company, to be successful.
Now, how someone views success can manifest in many different ways. Some entrepreneurs may view it as getting filthy “I own 5 homes and a yacht” rich. Others, perhaps, consider success making a difference in the world. Many still may remain confused and often ask themselves, “what does success really look like?”
The common denominator that unites all these conflicting thoughts and beliefs is the fact that to reach ANY sort of real or perceived success, there is a path to get there, and thus, a starting point. I decided to talk to nine founders across nine different industries to find out their top tips for entrepreneurs just starting on their journey towards success.
Be able to adapt.
As it happens, a few years into starting my company, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that left me in a wheelchair and bed-bound for a significant chunk of the past three years. And that’s when adaptability forced its way into my life. From this experience, I’ve learned that the single most valuable trait for a business leader is adaptability. Not confidence. Not focus. Not optimism. (Although these all come in handy, to be sure!) But adaptability. That’s how you weather the storm(s) and come out ahead. All the contingency planning in the world couldn’t have saved my business. Optimism didn’t keep my business going. My confidence was, er, waning (to say the least) and I couldn’t count on that either. What saved my business was my ability to adapt.
Stephanie Lee, Founder, Host Agency Reviews | @iamstephly
Be a jack of all trades.
My top tip for an entrepreneur just starting out is that you need to be able to personally do every single aspect of your business, be a “jack of all trades” so to say. If you’re getting off the ground with little to no initial investment capital, you’ll need to first and foremost master sales. Always make sure that you are retaining enough money to sustain you for 10x longer than your projections, and live cheap — cheap — cheap until things in your business have really solidified. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, you have to be prepared to work long work days, sacrifice your weekends, risk more, and accept the fact that your future is going to be often unpredictable. Realistically this type of lifestyle isn’t for everyone, even though we all have spectrums of entrepreneurial desire. However, if you truly want to control your own destiny, entrepreneurship is for you. And finally, remember this — the world is full of opinions, master the art of creating your own, and always trust your intuition, believing in yourself as an entrepreneur is paramount.
Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO, GeoLinks | @SkylerJesseD
Stay aligned with your mission.
One of the best traits of effective leadership is making sure your ideas align with your mission statement. If they don’t, move on. I also believe in the importance of having a “Do Not Do” list. In the beginning, I was the guy that tried to do everything on my own. As I’ve grown, I’ve definitely learned there’s a lot of value in networking and building relationships. The relationships that I’ve formed are what’s opening doors for the future. Learning the art of delegating tasks has helped me today — I wish I knew that in the early years. Having processes and procedures in place is very important for developing these traits in the world of business.
Take imperfect action.
Avoid waiting to take action, rather frame it as “always, take imperfect action.” Why? When we wait for the right time to take action, we (often unknowingly) are behaving as a perfectionist rather than focusing on results. When being a perfectionist creeps in, we kill innovation. Innovation is the key to entrepreneurship. Innovation is the result of free, open thinking. This is the fuel that drives entrepreneurs.
Savere Brian Ouellette, Founder, Pro Athlete Direct | @sbrianouellette
Go on a listening tour.
My advice is to go on a listening tour! Politicians do it all the time, and it is great for business too. Make a list of the movers and shakers, people you admire and prospects, ask a few smart open-ended questions, then sit back, and take notice. Start listening with no strings attached, you’ll be amazed what you find. It does not cost much, for the price of a few coffees and meals you will get an earful. I had no idea what to expect and got a lot of new work as a result.
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
Join an industry specific shared-work space.
I’d advise any entrepreneur to look into joining an industry specific shared-work space that allows them to mitigate start-up risk so they can grow their venture in a community of like-minded business owners who previously forged, or are in the process of creating their own startup paths. Many times they will share their own stories and experiences that will help you avoid the very mistakes they made — saving you time and money along the way. Incubators and shared-work spaces can act as a proxy to capital in early years when growth is risky. They provide entrepreneurs a chance to prove their concept before breaking ground and allow them to reserve operating capital for high-priority expenses such as research and development, trademarking, personnel acquisition, marketing and branding. According to research conducted by the National Business Incubation Association, it is estimated that 87% of businesses that graduate from established incubator programs are still in business within five years, versus 50% of those that have not had this support.
Josephine Caminos Oría, President & Founder, La Dorita Cooks Kitchen Incubator
Start with one thing.
Google started off as a search engine! Translation: START WITH ONE THING. People fail because they are trying to launch a blog, a video podcast, a t-shirt line, a nonprofit, and a steak shop all in one. Do one thing! I did T-Shirts first. That was it. Nothing else. For about 5 years. Then we started adding more to the spectrum… Save yourself the headache of trying to do everything. Be good at one thing. Grow that. Do that. Love that. And then you will grow naturally and organically into all the other stuff.
Alex “Nemo” Hanse, Founder, Foolies Limited Clothing
Choose the right partner.
Choose the right partner. You may be smart and have a vision but you don’t know it all. Your partner is not necessarily the person that agrees with you about everything — this could be even detrimental and would reduce your chances for coming up with innovative solutions. It’s healthy and creative to disagree sometimes. Your ideal partner in crime is the one that complements you in terms of skills and brings a different way of looking at things to the table. What you should have in common, though, are values. And that cannot be emphasized enough. The person you choose for a partner must be somebody you can respect and trust, always.
Levi Nunnink, CTO + Founder, Droplr
Replenish positive energy daily.
Maintain a positive attitude, because that is essential for success. Energy is the fuel that feeds our attitude and it needs to be replenished on a daily basis. Having a positive attitude is a conscious choice, so when negative thoughts creep in, stop them in their tracks and replace them with positive self-talk. Repeat words or phrases that focus on affirming truths about you. Surround yourself with like-minded people who are an inspiration and who will provide encouragement. Positivity allows you to see the potential that lies within you and gives you the faith to step outside of the box to achieve your dreams.
Grainne Kelly, Founder, BubbleBum